On Jean Honoré Fragonard’s The Swing & the scientific interests of Edgar Allan Poe.
Recent links of note:
“Fragonard’s The Swing has been restored—and it's saucier than ever”
Martin Baily, The Art Newspaper
Jean Honoré Fragonard’s ca. 1768 Rococo oil painting The Swing—or, to use its full title, The Happy Accidents of the Swing—has recently been restored by conservators at the Wallace Collection in London. The scandalous work, whose commissioner remains a mystery, depicts a young lady being pushed on a swing by an older man, while beneath her feet, hiding behind a flower bush, is a young man admiring her legs and perhaps about to glance up her skirt. With the yellowed varnish and discolored retouches now gone, viewers can see Fragonard’s tiniest details clearly, such as a frayed bit of the rope attaching the swing to the tree. Among the most popular interpretations of the painting is that it shows a love triangle between an aristocratic lady, her elderly husband, and a young suitor—the fraying rope is thought to emphasize the perils of such a situation. On November 3, the painting will be displayed once more in a new setting between two red curtains, which will likely bring out the swing’s now bright-red cushion.
“Star writer: The mystery of Edgar Allan Poe’s cranky cosmology”
Richard Lea, Times Literary Supplement
Edgar Allan Poe is beloved for his spooky short stories and poems, but long before he earned his living by the pen he was a student of mathematics, geometry, and astronomy at the United States Military Academy. These subjects continued to fascinate him even once he achieved literary success and his scientific interests emerged in writings such as “The Unparalleled Adventure of One Hans Pfaal,” a short story in which the main character describes his journey to the moon and back. The Reason for the Darkness of the Night, a new book by John Tresch, explores the writer’s little known obsession with science and metaphysics. Richard Lea, reviewing it in the Times Literary Supplement, narrows in on Poe’s Eureka: A Prose Poem, an adaptation of a lecture Poe gave at the New York Society Library on the nature of the universe and dedicated to the German naturalist Alexander von Humboldt.
“Roger Kimball introduces the November issue.” The Editor and Publisher of The New Criterion discusses highlights of the November 2021 issue and reads from its opening pages.
“Calling all Wagnerites,” by Jay Nordlinger. On Die Meistersinger at the Metropolitan Opera last night.
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